The upcoming Danner Championship races to be held Saturday should offer a fair amount of talent for fans to witness. We will concern ourselves with the individual talent, which is sizable, particularly because team rankings are especially suspect at this early point in the season and are often laughable at the end given the past few years.
Maddie Meyers of The Northwest School in Seattle would appear to be the prohibitive favorite, especially after her second place effort in the Sundodger Invitational last Saturday. In her first invite of the year Maddie waged a stirring duel with Kendra Weitz of Shadle Park and her second-place effort was a stunning 17:27 (course was 4920 meters). Both Maddie & Kendra are Foot Locker finalists and therefore quite special, as was last year’s winner Molly Grabill of California, who was a two-time finalist like Maddie.
Of course anything can happen on a given day and that is why we run races and on Saturday, if anyone is to upset Meyers, the two most likely suspects would appear to be Erin Clark of South Eugene & Sarah Reiter of Lindbergh. Erin came on strong late last fall & really came into her own last spring to earn a State title. She won the Pre-SWC week last week in a strong 18:15, and won by over a minute. It’s my firm belief that Erin is capable of making Foot Locker and she could make a strong case Saturday, as could Reiter. Reiter won Washington’s 2A title last year and placed second last weekend at Fort Steilacoom in 18:36.
If you want to look for upsets there are two rather unknown quantities out there in the person of Alexis Fuller of Union & Brenna Peloquin of Gig Harbor. Both are freshmen and both won their first races. Fuller, who had a brilliant track campaign last year, won the Run-A-Ree in 18:44 defeating Alexa Efraimson of Camas, who could also make waves. Brenna won her division at Capital with the best time of the day. Her race at Sundodger can not be counted, as she was forced to hold back and was well behind at the mile and then had to thread her way through the pack.
Other runners to watch are Kelly O’Neill of Lakeridge, who won her division at Wilsonville & claimed Trask by a minute & Shannon Susbauer, who was second at the Fanning Beach Run in Newport & won the Pre-NWOC meet last week. Oregon will also be represented by Claire DeVoe of Lincoln, who won the Chapman & Wilsonville meets. Jesuit’s Adrienne Demaree should also be on hand to give a challenge. Washington runners to watch are Rachel Atwood, who won at Capital & was third at Fort Steilacoom, plus Anna Patti, who was right behind her. Idaho will be represented by Samantha McKinnon, who won both Camelsback & the Clash in the Valley.
Lest they be overlooked there are two other freshman, who provoke speculation: Sarah Tsai of South Eugene and Gracie Todd of Sheldon. Both made their debut last week running in the SWC Preview but in the freshman race. It is assumed both girls will run varisty given that Sarah would have led her team & Gracie would have been second on hers. Like the Washington frosh it will be a pleasure to see what unfolds.
California runners of note are Lyndsey Mull, who was 15th at State last year, & Rachel Bush, 17th at State, of Redondo Union. Taylor Khan of Chino Hills placed third at Woodbridge in 2010. California freshman Jordyn Colter, has not raced this year as far as I am aware, but was lauded in the media guide. It is, of course, cross country, so one never quite knows and in this race the runners need to negotiate the hay bales as well as the camel humps.
The guys’ race would appear to be a little more open but only slightly so for Jacob Smith of Wenatchee is one of the very best in the nation. We watched him at San Diego last February in San Diego, where he placed 17th in a field that mostly was made up of collegians at the US Junior Championships. His race against Nathan Weitz at Sundodger was something behold, as both raced head-to-head until the very end. His time was 14:41 at Sundodger & he also won at Eastmont. Jacob lost to a Foot Locker finalist & I’d pay money to see how he’d fare against the best in the nation at Foot Locker.
As is the case with the girls, if Smith is to be topped, it would appear that the best chances are those of Korey Krotzer of Auburn Riverside & Dylan Blankenbaker of Redondo Union and both are coming off of triumphs last weekend. Krotzer got the campaign off to a rolling start with a triumph at Fort Steilacoom with a time of 15:38, while Dylan was victorious at Mt. Carmel with a 15:11 for the three mile course. Just a betting notch below that pair but not to be underestimated is Izaic Yorks of Lakes, who place second on Saturday at Fort Steilacoom with a 15:44 clocking. As long as he remains in contact, Izaic has the closing speed to be formidable.
Two young men from Oregon, who are making rapid strides of improvement are Kyle Thompson of Central Catholic & Hunter McGuirk of Jesuit. Hunter just placed second last Saturday in the South Salem Invitational (15:45), while Thompson romped at last week’s Blue Lake Cross-Over with a time of 15:44 after placing third at Wilsonville.
Other guys of note are Smith’s Wenatchee team mate Nicholas Boersma, who placed third at Sundodger with an impressive 15:06. Zack Holloway of Central Linn, who won the Silver Falls Invitational, and Justin Rocereto of Southridge, who scored in the Chapman and placed fifth at New Balance in 15:45. Not to be forgotten are Roman Kirkov of Union, who earned second in the Run-A-Ree plus Colby Gilbert of Skyview, who ran 15:45 at New Balance. California runners are hard to figure, because they have to be viewed off of last year’s form but Evan Malone & Alex Kinsey both placed well in their State meet. J J Dominguez of Don Bosco placed third in his school’s invitational with a three mile time of 15:03.
Both races offer some quality runners but the girls’ race even includes a bit of intrigue about how the freshman will handle the increased competitive level. In the end there should be a little bit for all harrier fans to enjoy. Lest one be surprised be advised that Nike is going to charge $5 for admission, so come prepared.